Every Friday evening, a group of work peers connect to discuss their unique set of challenges, break bread and celebrate their achievements. The G7, as they call themselves, are made up of 7 account managers from POI – Tanya, Christina, Fern, Marta, Susan, Michelle, and Zsuzsi. With the world on pause, this far-flung group chose to create a safe space to share best practices around strategy and products. What started out as a sales thing soon evolved into something much more that none of these ladies could have imagined.
Work has been redefined and the hybrid workplace is on the horizon with people and organizations looking to retain remote working in conjunction with the reimagined office. With the pandemic, the G7 group who typically would have been out on the road with clients, now had a new set of challenges – how to battle through, win clients hearts and minds and at the same time stay sane amidst a storm not yet seen before in modern history.
It all began live at the POI Xmas party in 2019. This was the nexus of a kinship between a set of colleagues who would soon become friends. With pizza and drinks in hand, there was a spark. When the pandemic hit, Marta proposed a chat on Teams to share tips and tricks, and later Fern suggested they dress up for the occasion. Sixty weeks later, and counting, this band of sisters had built virtual connections that had transcended the original intent of the meeting. They had created a circle of trust.
Threading the Needle Between Work and Home Covid-Style
Projects never ceased during the pandemic but they were pushed much further out. With a longer sales cycle, the activity had changed and the POI G7 saw it as an opportunity to share these new experiences and to harness their collective brainpower. But while they were bringing work into their home, they were also bringing home into their work. Convergence of work and life has never been more present than during this global phenomenon. And to mix it up further, the G7 crew began theming each week with elaborate efforts made to dress up and live virtually where life could not take root in person. With cocktails to end the work week, it was now an occasion with themes that they brought to life in the contained circle that incubated a special bond between colleagues. Themes included When I Grow Up, Superheroes, TV shows, Then & Now, Christmas in July, Safari, Breast Cancer Awareness, and many more. Photos were staged and shared, makeup applied, and costumes worn to really punctuate the entertainment of it all. “We made parts of our lives lighter in a sh#tstorm,” said Tanya who came from a broadcasting background and gravitated to the creative expression of these events which she sees as fostering comradery.
How 7 Women Took Their Battles to a Safe Space
When asked about the group, each of the members were candid and expressed how the necessity of getting together had become a unique bonding experience. They describe how matters of work had blended into the social realm and how the emotional impact of having this go-to place has at times been a godsend.
Susan looks forward to it. She loves that she now has six new friends that she regularly talks to even if it is only on Friday. While being a top sales performer, before the pandemic, she operated as an island unto herself. The opportunity to connect in this way has now culturally benefitted her. Michelle feels lucky and fortunate to be part of the group. More of the thoughtful silent type, she enjoys the banter and the participatory nature of these meetings. Marta enjoys the creativity of the weekly themes almost as much as the camaraderie that effortlessly blends work and friendship. “For me – this has been one of the few silver linings during this crazy time.” Fern describes it as “the pandemic version of the old days – meeting co-workers for a beer on a Friday afternoon to unwind, vent and have a laugh. A bonus, not intended, is the opportunity to share professional experiences and help problem solve work related issues.” She may have sales strategy and experience to share but has also learned a lot of technology tips.
Tanya describes it more romantically. “Seven people that had common ground, getting together, no apologies, no justifications.” They came together, she continued, “out of a necessity to share information and be heard when the world as we knew it had hit a level of crazy that some days seemed unbearable.” Zsuzsi echoes that feeling, “Lifelong bonds and friendships have formed. We would never have this group if it wasn’t for POI bringing us together and at this point nothing can pull us apart.”
Christina describes the purpose of the G7 modestly as a work support group looking to share job ‘tips and tricks’ without intention to change the way they perform their roles. She places greater value on the social bond and friendship that has developed amongst them. She is emphatic, “This is a circle of real, long lasting and forever friendships that we will cherish long after this pandemic.”
Well-being is at the root of any good workplace irrespective of where work happens, and Christina acknowledges some of the unforeseen benefits. “The benefit to our clients and our work is that we are better listeners, we are more patient, we are happier and overall we are more optimistic for the post pandemic world. In large part, for me this is attributed to these ladies and the bonds I’ve made with them all.”
They Put it All on the Table Every Friday Evening
From laughter to cries to venting RFP frustrations, and sharing parenting challenges, this work group is now also a friends group, a support group, and an anything-you-want-it-to-be group. With all judgements parked, the G7 feel that they truly have something special in one another.
Where work ends and life begins is now amorphous and porous. The hybrid workplace will take on many different shapes and sizes as the pandemic recedes. What we can expect is that the work-life balance pendulum will shift again to find a new equilibrium. What lies ahead is still unknown, much like what came before. The G7 crew talk about one day meeting at Michelle’s cottage to bring the experience back to the land of the living. They also have no illusions as to whether the group will extend meetings past the new year. The G7 has really been an organic response to the common need for connection and has flowed in ways that have touched and continue to impact its members as they navigate their independent lives and their common working frameworks. They have built an everlasting vault of friendship from behind their screens and their experience truly strikes an optimistic note and foreshadows how the virtual will continue to have value even as the world begins to eventually open itself up.